Connecticut is in a difficult economic time. Our current state budget has a deficit gap in the billions of dollars and conversations on a new, more balanced, budget for 2018 and 2019 have generated little in the way of consensus. However, we cannot afford to make short-sighted budget decisions that cost more in the long run.
Seniors and caregiving families in Connecticut count on affordable home care services so older parents and spouses can stay at home – where they want to be – and out of costly nursing homes. But, budget proposals in the state legislature have included detrimental cuts to core services, which could put residents at risk and force seniors from their home to get the care they need.
AARP is on the frontline, advocating for protection of important home care services – such as the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders and Alzheimer’s Respite Care – but we need your help. Take action by contacting your state legislators toll-free and asking them to reject harmful cuts to senior home care services: Senate members at 1-844-220-5525 and House members at 1-844-220-5526.
Fortunately, important legislation benefiting our citizens was passed despite the lack of budget clarity. All of the new bills, except Senate Bill 976, will require Governor Malloy’s signature to become law, but we are encouraged by the progress on the following:
- B. 976, Conservator Accountability: enactment of new protections for vulnerable incapacitated individuals by authorizing the Probate Court Administration to conduct random audits to deter potential financial malfeasance by court-appointed guardians, along with the adoption of formal standards of practice and guidance to assist guardians/conservators fulfill their responsibilities and navigate their role.
- Guardianship Training for Family Caregivers: AARP Connecticut worked with the Probate Court Administrator to develop and secure funding for a Family Caregiver Guardianship training program. The training program, which will launch at the end of 2017, will include a dedicated track for family caregivers and feature the AARP Connecticut Resource Guide to help families navigate public assistance programs.
- B. 445, Fairness in Pharmacy and Pharmacy Benefits Manager Contracts: Protects consumers from being overcharged for prescription drugs by banning pharmacy gag clauses and other policies that secretly require a pharmacy to charge patients their full co-pay, even if the drug costs less than the co-pay for that drug.
- B. 867, Notice Requirements for Home Health Care Registries: Will help family caregivers with access to information about the requirements and legal implications of hiring home health aides through a registry. Disclosures required at the time of contract allow family caregivers and older adults to make a fully informed choice about home and community-based service options and providers.
- B. 922, Temporary Health Care Structures: A bill designed to create a comprehensive zoning law, which allows for the placement of temporary healthcare structures on the property of a family caregiver in order to help older loved ones remain at home and out of a nursing home. Currently, there is a need to implement an affordable alternative to nursing homes for elderly or temporarily disabled individuals. Just a few months of nursing home expenses can quickly drain an individual’s life savings, forcing them onto state assistance. Temporary health care structures are accessory dwelling units similar to in-law apartments that can be placed on a family caregiver’s property and easily removed when the cared for individual recovers or no longer needs the unit. Temporary health care structures allow for increased independence for older adults and can be built with medical recovery in mind, such as having a wheel chair lift and padded flooring in the event of a fall.
- B. 7020, Requires the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Program Review and Investigations Committee Concerning Long-Term Care: Improves the collection and reporting of long-term care data to guide the development of Connecticut’s long-term care strategic plan and offer more options for seniors to age-in-place. The bill also requires data collection for state grants and programs designed for fall prevention.
Elderly Financial Exploitation
- B. 7029: Defeated an industry-sponsored proposal that included anti-consumer language for older consumers trying to access their money from banks and financial institutions.
Nora Duncan is the state director for AARP Connecticut.